WCRER Apartment Market Survey                                          Spring 2001

            For the past five years, the Washington Center for Real Estate Research has been committed to providing apartment market research for the majority of the populated counties in Eastern Washington along with two counties in Western Washington.  The surveys are aimed at finding the vacancy rates and rent charged to new tenants for all of the units each complex offers.  Our survey results are presented by the age of the complex and its geographic area within the county.  With the help and guidance of the state’s premiere apartment market research group, Dupre +Scott, the WCRER has become the largest apartment market researcher in Eastern Washington.  While Dupre +Scott conducts a semi-annual survey with complexes with 20 or more units, the WCRER conducts quarterly surveys dealing with complexes with at least five units.  Both surveys can be used together to obtain a complete understanding of apartment trends in the state of Washington. 

Market Coverage/Response Rates

            With Dupre + Scott covering seven counties on the western side of Washington and the WCRER covering two counties in Western Washington and eight counties in Eastern Washington, the survey’s goal is to hit every large market in the state.  The response rate for both surveys combined was 44.8% for the spring, 2001 survey.  This is down from 46.6% from last fall, but still represents a high degree of participation.  Some of the factors influencing the response rate range from apartment managers not willing to give out private information to the exclusion of the 5-19 unit complexes in the D +S survey. Neither survey includes apartments that are government-assisted, further lowering the response rate.  Over the past years the response rate has not changed much, leading to the belief that the data for each survey is consistent.

WCRER and Dupre + Scott Apartment Market Surveys
Market Coverage

County

     1990 
    Rental Apartments
  1990-2000 
  Apartment 
Construction
      2001 
     Rental 
Apartments
   Survey 
  Resonses
 Response 
  Rate
Benton/Franklin
(Tri-Cities)

8,225

2,073

10,238

6,049

59.1%

Chelan/Douglas
(Wenatchee)

3,200

626

3,803

972

25.6%

Clark
(Vancouver)

17,913

7,945

25,691

11,473

44.7%

Cowlitz
(Longview/Kelso)

4,002

950

4,928

1,175

23.8%

  

King
(Seattle/Bellevue)

168,540

47,856

212,091

48,176

46.3%

Kitsap   
(Bremerton)

8,342

14,896

12,988

5,753

44.3%

Kittitas 
(Ellensburg)

1,628

856 

2,475 

1,658 

67.0% 

Pierce 
(Tacoma) 

39,953 

8,965 

48,706

24,277 

49.8% 

Skagit 
(Mt. Vernon/Anacortes) 

2,758

1,046

3,768

717

19.0%

Snohomish
(Everett)

31,856

13,050

44,050

28,420

64.5%

Spokane

21,683

9,127

30,467

8,966

29.4%

Thurston
(Olympia)

7,445

2,057

9,454

6,460

68.3%

Whatcom
(Bellingham)

6,884

3,981

10,623

1,740

16.4%

Whitman
(Pullman)

3,268

998

4,238

3,606

85.1%

Yakima

5,887

1,244

7,083

2,122

30.0%

STATEWIDE

346,941

109,300

449,494

206,564

44.8%

Market Summary

            The spring 2001 statewide market vacancy rate was 4.1% compared to a 4.6% rate last fall, when WCRER computed its first statewide measure.  These vacancy numbers are significantly lower than the nationwide rental vacancy rate of 8.2%.  The vacancy rate throughout the state of Washington ranged from a low of 2.6% in both Whatcom and Skagit Counties to 6.6% in Spokane County.  The counties surveyed by D + S had an average vacancy rate of 3.5% while the counties surveyed in the WCRER survey had an average vacancy of 4.9%.  Average rent ranged from $462 in Yakima County to $841 in King county.  The average rent for Eastern Washington is $517 compared to a significantly higher $647 on the Westside indicating that the markets surveyed by D + S are substantially more expensive than those surveyed by the WCRER.  It should be noted, however that prevailing incomes are also higher in most of the Western Washington communities.

Rental Market Summary 
Selected Washington Counties 
March, 2001

Market (County) 

   Average 

      Size

    Average 

       Rent

 Number of 

     Units

    Number 

     Vacant

   Vacancy 

      Rate

Benton/Franklin
(Tri-Cities)

803 sq. ft.

$549

6,049

296

4.9%

Chelan/Douglas
(Wenatchee)

802 sq. ft. 

$535 

972 

50 

5.1% 

  

Clark 
(Vancouver) 

879 sq. ft.

$630

11,473

402

3.5%

Cowlitz
(Longview/Kelso)

801 sq. ft.

$488

1,175

60

5.1%

King
(Seattle/Bellevue)

N/A

$841

98,176

3,829

3.9%

Kitsap
(Bremerton)

N/A 

$644 

5,753 

253 

4.4% 

Kittitas  
(Ellensburg) 

724 sq. ft. 

$488 

1,658 

77 

4.6% 

Pierce 
(Tacoma) 

N/A 

$603 

24,277 

947 

3.9% 

Skagit 
(Mt. Vernon/Anacortes) 

N/A

$641

717

19

2.6%

Snohomish
(Everett)

N/A

$782

28,420

1,042

3.8%

Spokane

807 sq. ft.

$523

8,966

592

6.6%

Thurston
(Olympia)

N/A

$590

6,460

220

3.4%

Whatcom
(Bellingham)

N/A

$608

1,740

45

2.6%

Whitman
(Pullman)

798 sq. ft.

$546

3,606

169

4.7%

Yakima

725 sq. ft.

$462

2,122

115

5.4%

STATEWIDE

N/A

$737

201,564

8,152

4.0%

             As found in the survey results from the WCRER, the average unit size ranges from 724 sq. ft in Kittitas County to 879 sq. ft in Clark County.  The average size does not change significantly from survey to survey due to repeat participants.

  In order to obtain a complete understanding of all the counties and respondents in the survey it is essential to examine different units types separately.  One bedroom units are not really competing against two-bedroom units for the same tenants.  Furthermore, the nature of the markets in individual communities show different profiles of available units as illustrated in the graph.

Composition of Apartment Market
Selected Washington Communities, March 2001

 

1-Bedroom Apartments

           Throughout the state the most popular type of unit was the one bedroom apartment which represented 35.8% of the units in the combined WCRER and D + S surveys. These units varied significantly in rent and vacancy rate across the state.  The lowest vacancy rate was found in Skagit County at 2.2%, which is much lower than last Fall’s vacancy rate of 5.4%.  The highest vacancy rate for the 1-bedroom units was in Spokane County, where 6.7% of the units are vacant.  This is a 2.1% increase from last September when Spokane had a 4.6% vacancy rate.  Average rent on the units ranged from $378 in Whitman county to $742 in urban King county.  The more expensive units were found on the Westside of the state while the average one-bedroom apartment for an Eastern Washington county never cost over $500.  The surveys showed that rent is not an indicator of unit size.  Cowlitz County, with an average rent of $430, had an average size unit of 714 square feet while King County had an average rent of $742 but the average size unit was only 670 sq. ft.  The average size unit increased six square feet from last fall while the statewide vacancy rate rose 0.4% to 3.9%.
Apartment Summary Statistics – March 2001 
One-Bedroom Units

County

   Average Size (Sq. Ft.) 

     Average Rent 

      Vacancy Rate 

Benton/Franklin

643

$455

4.7%

Chelan/Douglas

617

$456

6.3%

Clark

691

$535

3.6%

Cowlitz

714

$430

4.1%

King

670 

$742 

3.8% 

Kitsap 

671 

$551 

5.4% 

Kittitas 

607 

$394 

6.0% 

Pierce 

670 

$508 

3.5% 

Skagit 

641

$559

2.2%

Snohomish

721

$669

3.1%

Spokane

646

$453

6.7%

Thurston

645

$515

2.6%

Whatcom

642

$525

3.9%

Whitman

593

$378

4.1%

Yakima

587

$418

5.0%

STATEWIDE

671

$645

3.9%

2-Bedroom/1-Bath Apartments

The 2-bedroom/1-bath unit represented 26.2% of the total units in the combined WCRER and D + S surveys.  The vacancy rate for this type unit ranged from a low of 1.6% in Whatcom County to a high of 6.8% in Spokane County.  The statewide vacancy remained the same at 4.3% from last September.  The largest decrease from last survey was found in Yakima County where the vacancy rate dropped from 10.5% to 6.5%.  The largest increase was in Spokane County where vacancy rate went from 5.3% to 6.8%.  The average rent for 2-bedroom/1-bath units was $687, a $7 increase from the September 2000 results.  Average rent ranged from $496 in Yakima County to $812 in King County. The average rent depended very heavily on location from east to west.  Benton/Franklin Counties had the highest average rent in Eastern Washington at $554 while the lowest average rent for a county in Western Washington was $578 in Thurston County.    While King County has the highest average rent in the state, it is near the bottom in terms of average size per unit.  While the largest units were found in Clark County at an average of 885 sq. ft, the average size of a 2-bedroom/1-bath unit in King County was 809 sq. ft. The statewide average for this type of unit was 837 ft.   

Apartment Summary Statistics – March 2001 
Two-Bedroom/One Bath Units

County

Average Size (Sq. Ft.) 

Average Rent

Vacancy Rate

Benton/Franklin

841

$554

5.7%

Chelan/Douglas

849

$546

5.1%

Clark

885

$594

3.7%

Cowlitz

850

$512

5.9%

King

809 

$812 

3.8% 

Kitsap 

836 

$601 

4.1% 

Kittitas 

725 

$530 

4.2% 

Pierce 

873 

$605 

4.6% 

Skagit 

876

$647

2.7%

Snohomish

879

$728

4.2%

Spokane

831

$523

6.8%

Thurston

829

$578

4.2%

Whatcom

862

$606

1.6%

Whitman

801

$500

3.7%

Yakima

820

$496

6.5%

STATEWIDE

837

$687

4.3%

Time Trends

           To understand time trends in the Apartment Survey, consistency is the main issue.  Seasonal patterns are well established in residential real estate, and extend into rental housing markets as well.  In addition, those seasonal patterns vary from community to community. (e.g. academic year in Whitman and Kittitas counties; agricultural cycle in Yakima and Chelan/Douglas counties)  Accordingly, the WCRER has developed time consistent surveys, March and September to reduce the risk of seasonal patterns.  The following table shows the results for the past two spring surveys throughout the state.  Examining the surveys in the same season helps avoid mistaking seasonal changes for emerging trends.  For the most part, the vacancy rate for each county did not fluctuate a substantial amount.  Over the survey period, 66% of the counties in Eastern Washington experienced a drop in vacancy rate while 78% of the counties in Western Washington had their vacancy rates decline.  While the majority of the counties had their average rent increase slightly, Clark County and Yakima County experienced a slight decrease in rental rates.  The statewide vacancy rate saw a very slight decrease from the Spring 2000 survey to the spring 2001 survey dropping only .01%.  

WCRER Apartment Market Surveys 
March 2000 and March 2001 

  

March 2000

March 2001

  

Vacancy Rate 

Average Rent 

Vacancy Rate 

Average Rent 

Benton/Franklin

5.2%

$516

4.9%

$549

Chelan/Douglas

6.0%

$522

5.1%

$535

Clark

4.2%

$601

3.5%

$630

King

3.7%

$792

3.9%

$841

Kitsap

5.5% 

$611 

4.4% 

$644 

Kittitas 

4.4% 

$465 

4.6% 

$488 

Pierce 

4.4% 

$586

3.9% 

$603 

Skagit 

3.8%

$603

2.6%

$641

Snohomish

5.1%

$732

3.8%

$782

Spokane

6.1%

$486

6.6%

$523

Thurston

3.8%

$578

3.4%

$590

Whatcom

3.0%

$604

2.6%

$608

Whitman

5.4%

$531

4.7%

$546

Yakima

7.2%

$459

5.4%

$462

STATEWIDE

4.2%

$692

4.1%

$737

Washington Center for Real Estate Research Center

Copyright© 2001 WCRER All Rights Reserved